Helen Selsdon

Helen Selsdon has served as the archivist for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) since 2002. She manages the Helen Keller Archive, the Talking Book Archive, the AFB Archive, and the M. C. Migel Rare Book collection. She serves as a grant writer and spokesperson for AFB’s historical collections.

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Giving Thanks that Helen Keller Remains in the Texas School Curriculum

November 20, 2018
Photo: Helen Keller seated in an armchair next to Winifred Corbally (right). Keller's young grandniece Margot Keller and another child stand in front. Texas, 1961. Today we give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives, and on this particular Thanksgiving, the American Foundation for the Blind has a special word of gratitude to the Texas Board of Education. On Friday, November 16, the board voted to keep Helen Keller (1880-1968) in the school curriculum. This decision has ensured…

The Disasters of War: Helen Keller's Work On Behalf of Blinded Veterans

November 8, 2018
Helen Keller was a witness to the disasters of war—more specifically, soldiers blinded in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. In-depth information on Keller's involvement with blinded veterans, and her work to improve the economic, social and psychological lives of returning veterans are all documented in the Helen Keller Archive. (Helen Keller, Polly Thomson and a veteran lying in bed, possibly at a hospital in Pennsylvania.) (Helen Keller with wounded veterans at…
Author Helen Selsdon
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Helen Keller's Life and Impact

September 20, 2018
On September 14, a national conversation began when the Texas School Board recommended the removal of Helen Keller from its required Grade 3 social studies curriculum. We realized this was an important moment to share Helen Keller’s extraordinary life story, and the many lessons she left us: perseverance, service, determination, compassion, inclusion, and the ability to change the world. Helen Keller (1880-1968) worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for 44 years, and today, we…

Thoughts on Independence Day by Helen Keller

July 3, 2018
Happy Fourth of July! Helen Keller fought her entire life for social and economic equality for all. During the 1930s she used the platform of the popular Home Magazine to express her ideas and encourage self-reliance, education, and hope, particularly among women. On the occasion of the Fourth of July, 1934, she encouraged readers to reflect on democracy and the work of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who sought to lift the country out of its economic woes. "Independence Day" by Helen…
Author Helen Selsdon
Blog Topics Helen Keller, Holidays

Helen Keller: Persistence and Resistance

May 31, 2018
Head and shoulders image of Helen Keller taken at her 80th birthday in 1960. Helen Keller died 50 years ago today – just a few weeks short of her 88th birthday. As the archivist and caretaker of her collection, I initially wondered how I nearly overlooked this anniversary. Upon consideration, I have several theories about this that I’d like to share with you. In the decade and a half of my professional role, I have never focused on her death date. Keller was fortunate enough to live a long…

Sharing Our Progress in Making the Helen Keller Archive a Gold Standard of Accessibility for Other Digital Archives

July 27, 2017
We were so honored today to present at the Society of American Archivists 2017 Annual Meeting to discuss the Helen Keller Archive digitization project, and our work to create a fully accessible archival collection. Our topics included: Why we were doing it, and why you should, too! The process of digitizing braille, and other tricky materials Metadata—all the information about the information that is contained in the collection (archivists love that stuff) How to make websites accessible…

No Limits: Accessible Technology from Helen Keller to Google

June 12, 2017
Helen Keller trying an electric braillewriter at the offices of the American Foundation for the Blind in New York City, 1954. This Thursday evening, the American Foundation for the Blind will be honoring Google for pouring its considerable talent and resources into developing technologies that improve how people with vision loss live, work, and play. This past year saw significant accessibility improvements in a range of Google's products, including the Android mobile operating system and…

The Gift that Keeps Giving: Reviving an Historic Home in Monroe, N.Y. with Strong Ties to Helen Keller

April 28, 2017
Helen Selsdon here, the archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind. Back in March 2016 I received an email from a gentleman asking me about a house called Rest Haven in upstate New York. I knew about this house and its connection to AFB and I wondered what he wanted to know. Little did I anticipate the wonderful story that was about to unfold. It is my great pleasure to introduce Timothy Mitts, the man behind an incredible campaign to save an historic building that was once owned by…

Celebrate Annie Sullivan's Birthday: Support the Cogswell-Macy Act!

April 12, 2017
Happy birthday, Annie Sullivan! Annie was born on April 14, 1866, in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Today, we celebrate her legacy and excellence as an educator. She insisted that her student, Helen Keller, could learn and accomplish just as much as any seeing and hearing child could — and she was right. Helen was a brilliant student, but Annie turned out to be an equally talented teacher. It was Mark Twain who first dubbed her the "miracle worker". Alexander Graham Bell greatly respected…

Digitizing the Helen Keller Archive: Made Possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities

March 16, 2017
Over the past two years, with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has digitized a vast portion of the over 80,000 items in Helen Keller’s unique and irreplaceable archive. 160,000 digital images have been created, and by December of this year will be accessible online to blind, deaf, deafblind, sighted, and hearing audiences around the globe. Helen Keller and a young girl, circa 1920. Funding from the NEH…
Author Helen Selsdon
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